Have you come across a story told so well that you soon start believing it to be real? When the lines between fiction and non fiction start to blur? When every dream, every hope and every tragedy seems like your own?
Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen is an emotionally powerful story about a family whom you will not forget. It revolves around Mimi Miller who recounts her life, beginning in the 1960s in Miller's Valley, a small rural town in Pennsylvania, America. We are introduced to Mimi when she is 11 and she lives with her parents and her two older brothers Edward and Tommy. Her Aunt Ruth (who harbors a terrible secret) lives in a small house behind Mimi's and never leaves the confines of her home.
Her family has been rooted in Miller's Valley for generations, 200 years in fact. The farmlands have been threatened by government officials who want to transform the flood prone area into a reservoir. Imagine flooding 6400 acres of old family farms, small ramshackle homes and drowning the entire valley under water?? As the river is released in little by little dampening the ground, it also seems to drown people little by little, forcing secrets to surface and people losing their way of life. As Mimi grows up and faces life's challenges, she realises that the people whom she counted on are not there for her anymore. The only stolidity in her rapid changing world is Donald, her childhood friend who lives in California. The story ends when Mimi is 65.
Told entirely through Mimi, Ms Quindlen makes her characters so alive and so believable. A very interesting moving novel. A bit of a twist at the end, which I didn't see it coming. Kept me glued to its pages. So much so that my husband actually asked me - 'what is this -some marathon reading race?' I finished it in 3 days. I could have read the entire 257 pages in hardback sooner, if not for the mountainous amount of laundry after returning home from our year end holiday.
Some interesting quotes :
' I have clear memories from that time, but they are not the ones you'd think. They are never the ones you think....No, its strange little moments that live inside you and keep peeking out the windows that open suddenly in your mind.'
' Sometimes there are things that you have rehearsed so many times, thought about so often, that when they happen, its like they already happened a long long time ago.'
' No one ever leaves the town they grew up, even if they go'
Miller's Valley reminds us that the place you grew up can disappear but the people who lived in it will go on to live in your heart forever.
Available in Amazon for US$18 paperback.